Human Rights Watch Discredited Even By Its Founder

Human Rights Watch, the NGO that has become more famous for its obsessive attempts to delegitimize Israel than for its stated mission to promote global human rights, is becoming less and less credible. Now, even its founder and former chairman, Robert Bernstein, has publicly dissociated himself from that NGO’s agenda. Just how far the organization has strayed from its founding mission to become an extremist anti-Israel NGO was plainly illustrated by Bernstein in a  New York Times Op-Ed entitled “Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast” (Oct. 19). Mr. Bernstein explains why he has decided to distance himself from the organization he founded:

As the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

This comes as no surprise to those who have been monitoring the false allegations and radical agenda of the current Human Rights Watch leadership. In February 2009, CAMERA’s Alex Safian revealed just how extreme the organization’s Middle East staffers are. Joe Stork, formerly Advocacy Director, and now Deputy Director of HRW’s Middle East and North African division, revealed his radical anti-Israel leanings as early the 1970, when he and several others started MERIP, the Middle East Research Information Project, because they deemed existing leftist critiques of U.S. support for Israel “inadequate.”. Stork wrote about the “revolutionary potential” of Palestinian violence and of “liberating Palestine” through the “struggle against (Zionist) imperialism.” He took part in a “Zionism and Racism” conference in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and has repeatedly attempted to delegitimize Israel in his writings and pronouncements, with false characterizations and allegations. (See “Joe Stork, Senior Human Rights Watch Staffer, Supported Violence against Jews and Israel’s Destruction.”)

NGO-Monitor’s Gerald Steinberg has documented not only the pre-existing, anti-Israel bias of HRW’s Middle East director, Sarah Leah Whitson — she served as a board member of the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel Arab-American Anti-Discrimination, and worked for Madre and the Center for Social and Economic Rights (CESR) which describe Israel as “apartheid,” before being hired by HRW — but also how she continues to promote her anti-Israel political agenda, by supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements.

David Bernstein of the Volokh Conspiracy blog revealed how Whitson sought to raise funds within Saudi Arabia in May 2009 by highlighting HRW’s efforts to discredit Israel through allegations of war crimes as well as its battles against what she calls “pro-Israel pressure groups.”

Meanwhile, HRW’s senior military expert — whose testimony provides the “evidence” for many of the organization’s anti-Israel allegations — has been shown by Mere Rhetoric blogger Omri Ceren to be an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, for whatever that’s worth.

NGO-Monitor recently put out a detailed report examining HRW’s Israel-related “activities” which includes profiles of HRW staffers, case studies of the organization’s anti-Israel campaigns, and quantitative demonstration of the disproportionate focus on Israel’s alleged misdeeds.

Now that Mr. Bernstein has issued a public disavowal of HRW for violating its own principles, will the organization continue to promote the biased and error-riddled Goldstone Report and to assault Israel with its one-sided criticism or will it return to its original purpose of seeking to alleviate oppression of peoples living under undemocratic, totalitarian and repressive regimes?

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